Monday, September 10, 2012

Mixed Bean Salad Recipe

Hi, my name is Cyn and I'm guest blogging here today. I blog about food, family, creativity and more over at Creative Cynchronicity. I'd love for you to pop on over and join me there. I'll have the sweet tea ready for you!



 Mixed Bean Salad

I just love this recipe for a number of reasons. It's easy to make, versatile, can utilize leftovers, and economical even for a crowd! AND since most of the ingredients aren't perishables, you can keep them on hand and make this dish anytime!

One of the ways you can reduce the cost in this recipe is by using dried beans. Now before you run away, let me tell you - it's really not complicated! Most beans need about 4 hours of soaking (some require 8 or even 12 - check the package for full details) but here's the thing: soaking them longer than they need won't hurt them. It doesn't detract from the taste, texture, or nutrients. So, I simply put the beans in to soak overnight! Easy peasy! The key is to place the beans in a non-reactive bowl or pot (no metal as it can impart a metallic taste into the beans) and add enough water to cover them by 4 inches because they will expand by about double or more as they soak. Remember that different types of beans may have different cooking times - you'll want to soak those separately! Check the packages or this chart and combine them only if they have the same cooking times. 





 If you're only soaking them for 4 hours, they can remain at room temperature but anything longer than that needs refrigeration so it doesn't ferment or start growing sprouts! After they've soaked, put them in a colander and give them a good rinse. Beans can have some remaining dirt on them so you want to be sure to wash all of that away! Cook according to the chart or package and place them in the refrigerator until ready to use. I often cook up some extra beans and serve some in hot dishes, reserving the rest for this bean salad so I get double or triple duty out of one soaking and cooking batch! Of course if you need to make this in a hurry, maybe for a last minute potluck, picnic, or cookout, you CAN use canned beans but wait until you see the difference in cost! 


The Basic Recipe (Variations Follow)


 Note: The prices I'm using here are from my local Loblaws' store here in London, Ontario Canada. It's a mid range store and prices may vary in your area and by shopping at discount grocery or bulk stores. 






 Ingredients to make enough for 8-10 servings: 


 4-5 cups of cooked beans - you need about 1/2 cup of dried beans to make 1 cup of cooked (use as many varieties as you'd like such as chickpeas, red and white kidney beans, Great Northern beans, black beans, navy beans, black eyed peas and more) - depending on the kinds of beans you use the cost will average around 90 cents to $1
 1/2 medium to large red or Vidalia onion (amount depends on your preference and you can certainly use ordinary yellow onions to bring the cost down even more - these are just my favourites) - around 60 cents


Dressing: 1/4 cup olive oil 1/4 cup (or more if preferred) 
plain white vinegar 1/2 to 1 T. 
thyme leaves 1/2 to 1 T. 
rosemary 1/2 to 1 T. 
basil salt and pepper to your taste
plain yellow mustard cost for the dressing is around 70 cents 


Total cost for the salad: $2.20 to $2.30 
Cost per serving (for 8 servings): 28-29 cents each 
Total cost for the salad if you use canned beans (assuming the use of 4 - 14 oz. cans of beans): $6.86 
Cost per serving (for 8 servings): 86 cents each I'll just let that cost difference speak for itself! 


Now for some fun variations - remember, this can be a great way to use up some leftovers by adding them to the basic salad above! 


Add in 1 medium green pepper, chopped (85 cents)


Add in 2 stalks of celery, chopped (40 cents) 


Add in 1 medium tomato, chopped (80 cents) (You could also use grape or cherry tomatoes for an additional cost) 


Total cost if you add all three to the basic recipe: $4.25 Cost per serving (for 8 servings): 53 cents each


Want to round it out into a fuller side dish or even a main dish? Add in any of the following: 


1 to 1 1/2 cups each of any or all of these: cooked corn, green beans, lima beans, or yellow wax beans 
1 1/2 cups cooked white or brown rice or 3 medium potatoes, cooked and cubed or 2 large sweet potatoes, cooked and cubed 
Throw in some leftover cooked chicken, turkey, ham, or sausage 


Variations on the dressing: 
For your spices, use some dried peppers, chili powder, and cumin. 
Add in some lime juice. I find this especially good with black beans, kidney beans, corn, and sweet potatoes. Throw in some sausage for a complete meal. 
Add in lemon or orange juice. 
Use a flavoured oil (avocado anyone?) in place of the olive oil 
Use a flavoured vinegar (I think balsamic is really delicious in this but there are so many other variations to try too) 
Use lemon or bourbon pepper instead of black pepper 
Use a flavoured or grainy mustard instead of the basic yellow 


What other variations can you come up with? Feel free to share your ideas or ask me any questions you have! Thanks so much to Lisa for letting me hang out with you today! I hope you enjoyed this delicious summer recipe!

Thank you for the yummy recipe and variations Cyn! Hey gang make sure you give Cyn's post some social media love and visit her blog Creative Cynchronicity for more recipes and creative ideas!

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